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Thompson on Hollywood

New Italian Cinema: Films Hit the Zeitgeist at 15th Annual San Francisco Fest

  • By Meredith Brody
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  • November 22, 2011 5:10 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Susan Seidelman's Dance Romance Musical Chairs To Hit Theaters in March 2012

"Boynton Beach Club" director Susan Seidelman's latest, the romantic dance drama "Musical Chairs" will be released by Mark Urman's Paladin Films in March 2012. The film starring rookies Leah Pipes and E.J. Bonilla as dancers in love in contemporary New York debuted as a work in progress at the Woodstoick Film Festival and will first officially debut at Lincoln Center on January 28th as the centerpiece film of their annual “Dance On Camera” festival.   Set in the world of competitive ballroom dancing, "Musical Chairs" stars Bonilla as a Bronx Latino would-be dancer; he works as a handyman at the Manhattan dance studio where East Side Princess Mia (Pipes) is the star. When an accident ends her dancing career, at his behest she moves into training for a wheelchair ballroom dance competition.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 18, 2011 6:53 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Learning from the American Film Market: Haves vs. Have Nots

What did we learn from the recently wrapped, relatively upbeat American Film Market? Beyond the flashy announcements of sales from companies such as FilmNation, there was also strategic talk of how to move the business forward.
  • By Liza Foreman
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  • November 16, 2011 1:28 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Third Annual Hollywood Fringe Festival Sets 2012 Dates: How to Join Up

Los Angeles culture lovers: the third installment of the Hollywood Fringe Festival has set its dates for 2012. From June 14-24, Hollywood will get an "explosion of theatre performances, solo artists, dancers, experimental art, comedy, films, and cabaret" from this non-profit fest. An opening night gala, awards ceremony and after party are all part of the fest, which is open and non-curated. More information on how to be involved and key dates are below:
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • November 16, 2011 11:44 AM
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  • 0 Comments

AFI FEST: Mumblecore Maestro Swanberg Tips Exit

During a recent three-night stand at AFI FEST in Los Angeles, micro-budget indie filmmaker Joe Swanberg suggested that he's ready to move on from mumblecore-style dramas toward films on adult topics-- perhaps to explore the type of free-form transmedia content spawned by the Internet. Selected as the festival’s Spotlight section director, Swanberg screened a trio of new films from his “Full Moon” trilogy -- "Silver Bullets and Art History," which debuted at Berlin earlier this year, as well as the world premiere of "The Zone." Adopting a loose creative process, Swanberg frequently works with just an outline rather than a finished script, with the actors improvising much of their dialogue. Performers often play themselves or close facsimiles, frequently opposite Swanberg, appearing as an indie filmmaker shooting a low-budget feature. Despite the typically slim narratives and narrow thematic scope of his movies, Swanberg has said that he considers himself a director of “meaningful art films.”His digitally shot features often incorporate handheld camerawork or alternatively a “press record” aesthetic, with a fixed camera that’s switched on when takes begin so that he can appear in the frame shooting his actors for a film-within-a-film scenario. Other production values are equally basic and sometimes downright murky, with slight attention to formal considerations. Swanberg frequently produces, shoots and edits on his own or with minimal collaboration. Emotional and relationship dynamics dominate the three new films, along with issues of artistic creativity and the cinematic process. During Q&As following each of the three screenings, he responded to a wide range of questions in what amounted to a summation of where he stands now regarding the themes and no-budget format of his substantial mumblecore catalog. Making art films: While studying film production at Southern Illinois University, Swanberg was inspired by the types of writer-director-driven productions championed by the Sundance Film Festival. Disillusionment gradually crept in as the budgets and star casting of independent films accelerated during the 90s. “Once celebrities started acting in art films they were no longer art films,” Swanberg complained. “Now I feel most of the independent films I see are Hollywood films on a low budget.” A documentary aesthetic: Swanberg explained that Southern Illinois University has a strong documentary program and that he expected to make docs following graduation. After deciding to take the feature-directing route, he adapted his university training for short, intense shoots, shaping a personal visual style that mixes loose, handheld camera techniques with fixed, static shots. “The films I’m directing now incorporate that process,” he observed. Art History for instance was filmed in just four days: “We started with shooting a very loose idea of what the film would be – it was very intuitive.”  Let’s talk about sex: “It’s really confusing to me that sex is still a taboo subject in filmmaking,” Swanberg commented. “Early in my career I was focused on depicting sex realistically,” he recalls. “I was attempting to find a more middle ground to portray sex the way I was experiencing it,” he said, rather than adopting the allusive approach of mainstream movies or the explicitness of porn. “But I found out it was complicated,” he acknowledged. The three films are in part about “finding out where we draw those lines and why we draw those lines [about sex],” he asserted. Moving on from mumblecore: Now that he’s married and the father of a young son, Swanberg is talking about refocusing on films about parenthood, as well as further exploring the online space, as he sees the proliferation of unscripted and documentary-like content created on iPhones or streamed online. (He’s already made several web series and some of the scenes in "The Zone" were shot on Apple’s versatile phone.) “I often still wonder why I’m making these small movies,” he mused. “In general I don’t know how the films are making the world a better place,” he said of his digital features. “I hope I’m part of a tradition of art filmmaking that started in France in the 50s,” Swanberg continued, and although he likes the idea of “carrying the torch forward for art films,” he noted that “filmmaking is almost becoming a connoisseur experience.” He went on to say that “The really interesting stuff is happening online and on Facebook,” noting that he’s looking more at non-narrative forms and structures of storytelling, although he conceded that “as long as there are performers there will be a need for directors.”
  • By Justin Lowe
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  • November 15, 2011 3:08 AM
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  • 2 Comments

FilmNation's Basner Talks American Film Market Fatigue, Selling Malick, Penn, Soderbergh

  • By Liza Foreman
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  • November 8, 2011 11:48 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Basking in French Cinema Now 2011: from Bachelor Days to Screen Illusion

San Francisco Francophile Meredith Brody reports on the city’s 2011 French Cinema Now.
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • November 7, 2011 10:35 AM
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  • 0 Comments

AFI Fest Confirms Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire as Secret Screening

While most of the films being shown for free thanks to Audi at the AFI FEST (November 3-10) have been screened at other festivals, the AFI FEST has managed to grab some movies that weren’t ready for earlier fall tests. They scored the world premiere of Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar (November 9) for opening night, landed the closing night North American premiere of Steven Spielberg’s December stateside release The Adventures of Tintin, which is scoring enormous box office overseas, and will show (as we already reported) Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire (January 20) as its Secret Screening. That means it’s not an official world premiere—although in effect it is.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 6, 2011 1:25 PM
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  • 0 Comments

AFM News: Worst Idea Ever, Charlie Chaplin in 3-D

Count on German schlockmeister Uwe Boll to endorse the worst idea ever for a movie. Check out the pitch to a major studio (the name is omitted) from his Kinostar colleague Michael Roesch below:
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 6, 2011 1:04 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Adventures of Tintin to Close AFI FEST: Building Awareness, Oscar Buzz

  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 1, 2011 11:10 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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